His brilliance is enshrouded in humility, his zeal is hinged on value outcomes, his will is trained to overcome odds, his accomplishments are rooted in zest, hardwork and honesty, his inner strenght is buoyed by strong convictions and a divine connection with God through prayers. With an imagination that is not only rare but robust, Udom; the unpretentious son of Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang makes the daring move into the 2015 Akwa Ibom Governorship race. This is no piddling move considering the countless number of Akwa Ibom sons and daughters who are ably qualified to throw their hats into the ring. The finest political pundit would not have easily predicted the present circumstance, with Udom beating the political queue of old war horses to emerge the favourite against the run of play. It is an indication that great things are set to happen.

Deacon Udom Emmanuel embarks on this mission with an ease of elegance that oozes forth from his broad professional standing and practical experience in diverse aspects of human endeavour. With an undaunted conviction in shared values, a commitment to excellence and an amazing camaraderie; a definitive edge to his persona emerges which has helped to increase his field of influence in the workplace and beyond. Like all great achievers, his grooming was not spontaneous but nurtured overtime; first in the citadels of learning, and then in the call of duty in the work environments, he found himself in the course of life. Udom’s intellectual and professional horizon is quite broad and profoundly enriched as it were by several international management programmes, conferences and seminars at home and overseas. He is a dutiful husband and father who strives within human limits to make a difference at home and wherever his core professional competence is required.

The Peoples Democratic Party is once again on another phase to entrench its democratic credentials by electing its Governorship candidate for the 2015 general elections. Since its formation in 1998, such positions have been keenly contested among various blocs or aspirants within the party, and I am quite certain the yet to be conducted primaries will not be an exception. The tradition still goes on. It is an opportunity for the party to showcase its talents and array of men who are capable of leading this State. However, the dynamics of winning our state elections place all prospective candidates on different scales based on multiplicity of factors. In considering the past and the present political and economic situation, it is imperative that the PDP delegates, in choosing the party’s standard bearer, ought to make a strategic and situational decision rather than a wholesale emotional decision that will give the party a natural lead at the polls. Rather than elect someone who will leave more questions than answers.

On my part, upon sieving, profiling and a detailed SWOT analysis on the various prospective Governorship aspirants jostling for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket based on current trends and dynamics of our state political landscape, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang represents the best shot to deliver power for the party in 2015. Having said that, this is by no means to discredit the ability of any other aspirants, but, to reemphasize the fact that, even in the Holy Books, God chose persons as prophets to lead nations and tribes, among a lot, to deliver their people, depending on which time of history or situation they found themselves. For me, Udom is a colossus and at the right time of history.

Udom’s nature is what has endeared him to be accepted as the people’s choice. He has interacted widely with people from various parts of the state and the interaction is on. His circle of supporters is widening. The people have seen in him a man who is God-fearing, likeable, affable, calm, humble and has an enchanting personality. This brings to question what I describe as situational leadership. From 1999, circumstances have produced certain styles of leadership which were acceptable by Akwa Ibom people.

We’ve been through situations where we have had visionary, aggressive, and humble but firm types of leadership, all depending on its epoch. In 1999, we had Obong Victor Attah, visionary, widely read and travelled, a bold Governor who never blinked to anyone in fighting for the state’s own due. In 2007, the people went for a dynamic, ebullient young lawyer with robust energy to change the landscape and redefine Akwa Ibom State on the world map. His name is Godswill Akpabio. But, even with the basics mostly put in place, especially in key infrastrucure, the index of unemployment and hunger is still not encouraging. The next phase demands a man with firm roots at home, from the right part of the state to produce the next Governor. A man whose phone book and email contacts have the appropriate names. A man who has cognate private sector experience, who has been involved with investments at the highest level and will be prudent in the management of resources for optimal benefit. A man who has handled huge funds and has a clean record of accountability in a banking world where several persons have been indicted for shady deals and crass corruption. Udom Emmanuel fits in nicely into the circumstance.

In this era of economic instability occasioned by fluctuating fortunes from the oil market and mass poverty due to high unemployment rates, the private sector happens to be the engine of economic growth, it is important that those who seek to lead this state must have leadership qualities, have the requisite skills in managing enterprises and creating wealth, innovative ideas and a proven record of private sector development. Investments and private enterprises are the invaluable lubricants in any socio economic transformation. They are the drivers of national economies the world over. They are the indispensable arteries that feed the socio economic heart of nations with their sustainable power. Any attempt to backstage the potential and importance of these necessary catalysts for inclusive economic growth and industrialization, that are also significant contributors to employment generation, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and food security is tantamount to going backwards and not taking the quantum leap towards sustainable economic growth.

That is why Udom knows that when issues of an ever increasing poverty index, mass unemployment among the youth, lack of an industrialized base, and the need to shore up the entire range of economic activities in the state to compete effectively in the value chain, stares us all in the face with their diverse consequences, the private sector becomes strategically important as veritable bridge in our drive towards the frontiers of economic greatness. The reality of the economy in contemporary Akwa Ibom State is that there is a tangential and incommensurate relationship between available employment opportunities and the exceedingly great rate of growth in the labour force. The latter, from every indication, by far outweighs the former. The dominant groups of the unemployed class are the virile youths who are either graduates of tertiary institutions or atleast possess secondary school certificates. The perennial swelling of the ranks of these groups of Akwa Ibomites in the labour market both at the urban and rural settings is a dilemma traceable to the undiversified structure of our national economy which puts, by its nature, certain restrictions on job creation. The National

indicates an astronomical rise in the unemployment rate since 2009. For instance, it was 19.7% in 2009, 21.1% in 2010 and 23.9% in 2011. This problem was further exacerbated by the recent global financial meltdown and the downsizing it engendered across keys sectors. That is why the civil service is left as the only safe option for employment. That is why we need Udom.

One of the most important qualities of a leader, especially a politician, is to have a charming presence that appeals to the people across board. I must also add that, not every politician is gifted with such personality trait. It is important also to note that, no single political party has won elections with its traditional supporters or voters. Elections are won with combinations of traditional votes, floating or undecided voters and even by alliances with other smaller parties. Udom has a comparable mass appeal across the state, especially among the people who have felt left out. Being fresh and open, Udom appeals to floating voters much more than any of the other aspirants. He is widely known and loved by them as a result of his charisma and his style. We must acknowledge the fact that politics is about numbers. The numbers within the present political fold alone cannot secure the PDP power. The PDP must have a suitable candidate who naturally connects to these floating voters, who is easy to market and has the capacity to win back certain key local governments while consolidating the party’s strongholds. A candidate with a state appeal makes the job of capturing political power much easier. This is no time to go for ethnic warlords, whose ambitions go against the sacred principles of zoning and power rotation. This is no time to go for very corrupt money bags who have squeezed life out of the state over time by draining the treasury, prepared for a time like this. Delegates must know that candidates like this only “show working” during elections and promote sycophancy to oil their over bloated ego. They always want people to perpetually linger around their homes and offices. If he buys a car for you today and marries you a wife, what will your children feed on? That is the stark reality.

Udom is the quintessential leader the state needs for the future. Blessed with the gift of gab, he is able to inspire people with ease. He has the rare ability to parley and schmooze with the stakeholders and convince them to share in his convictions. A moving compedium of local proverbs. He is in touch with his people, shares in their dreams and aspirations. God fearing and with the appropriate dose of intellectual capacity and a handsome friend of the women. Udom is the total man for the right job.

By @AniekemeFinbarr
Aniekeme Finbarr is a public Affairs Analyst

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